A DELI has been given permission to keep an outdoor seating area for its customers despite noise concerns from neighbours.

The owner of the Claypath Delicatessen said the seating area was essential to the business’ survival, while a retired resident who lives next door said noise from the deli might stop him enjoying his garden.

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The deli, cafe and bakery applied to have the area for up to 25 people allowed permanently after a one-year trial period.

In five letters, supporters said there were no smell, noise or other problems, the customers were polite and respectful and it was a great place for the community to meet and relax.

It opened 259 days in a year disrupted by Covid and there were no recorded complaints about noise, Durham County Council’s planning committee heard.

However two neighbours raised objections like loss of privacy, noise and disturbance.

Frank Newton, who lives next to the deli’s garden, told the meeting the sound of voices metres away from his home in a quiet residential area was amplified with a “canyon effect”.

He said: “This has been our family home for over 23 years.

“Our garden is very small and we have the right to enjoy in accordance with the council’s policy on amenity and the Human Rights Act.

“This proposal would affect the use of our garden for eight to 10 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We look after our garden with great care. As we’re both retired in our 70s, this is an important aspect for us to be able to enjoy our garden, and we feel that there are noise levels that occasionally will occur which we feel are intrusive.

“This is our garden. We’ve lived there long before the deli was there. We feel that this is a very very important issue for us, to the extent that we feel we won’t be able to use our garden when the noise levels out there are unacceptable.”

Applicant Rory Handy said: “The garden’s a peaceful space. We’re not a pub. We don’t serve alcohol. It’s a place for local residents to come and meet over a coffee or a tea, read a book. There’s been no noise complaints whatsoever.

“The deli’s a community place. We are community people.

“Had it not been for the outdoor seating area during this pandemic, the business would have suffered immeasurably. It’s vitally important to our survival basically.”

“We’ve got a number of neighbours, many many neighbours, none of whom have objected this time other than Mr Newton.

“I don’t know what we have to do to keep him happy but it doesn’t seem like it’s possible to me.”

Councillor Jonathan Elmer suggested waiting six months as it was too soon to decide without a proper sound assessment.

Planning officers were satisfied the seating area would not cause unacceptable noise nuisance or disturbance, and councillors voted 6-4 to follow their recommendation to approve it.

Ward councillor Richard Ormerod said the deli added value to the area and was a useful resource and meeting place, but it was in a residential area.

He said: “There hasn’t really been a proper 12-month period in which to assess the impact.

“There is undoubtedly inconvenience for residents. The question is whether or not it is an acceptable amount of inconvenience or not.

“I genuinely don’t know what the right answer is.”

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